September 10, 2014

Wireless Station

Lets flash back to the 8th October 1913. Flinders Island Wireless Station was officially opened after almost a year in construction of two buildings and erection of the 170 ft. (52m.) high mast in February of 1913.

Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) held a contract with government of the day to provide radio contact between ships at sea and land around the Australian coastline. All stations used Morse Code to communicate but as this medium had a relatively short range there were many stations studded around the coastline. A major benefit for Flinders Island was telegraphic contact with the mainland.

Some 40 men were employed by AWA to build the station; materials and equipment came from Victoria by ship to Back Bay Beach (Cave Beach) and Emita Jetty whereupon Fred Day’s bullock team and horses carried the load uphill to the site on Wireless Hill. The mast was constructed of lengths of Oregon timber bolted together to form hollow box-sections each bolted to another to create a very long but relatively light structure capable of being lifted manually by workers.

But a short time after completion the First World War broke out in 1914 whereupon the Australian Navy took over all AWA stations for the duration of the war and posted a permanent military guard to protect the station 24 hours a day. At the end of the war ownership was returned to AWA who continued to operate until being taken over be Overseas Communications (Aust. Fed. Govt.).

Mr. Bill Holloway was the first Officer in Charge assisted by Mr. Bill Wilson. Mr. Holloway was transferred to Thursday Island in 1919 when Mr. Fred Mulligan took over for the following 12 years with Second Officer at the time, Mr. Arthur Flood.

The Wireless Station finally closed on 1st January 1947.

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